Organizing a Prepared Pantry: everyday and bulk pantry storage

Not long ago, I heard that the average American household only has enough food in their house for two to three days. I’ll be honest – I was shocked by this! You never know when a natural disaster, severe weather, life or health emergency, or supply chain issues will come along. A well-stocked pantry is the way to go! We are a large family who tends to mostly cook from scratch, grows our own food, and we live outside of the city. Because of this, I have built up a pretty robust Homestead Pantry. We have an everyday working pantry along with a bulk food storage pantry, and I thought I would share how we organize our homestead pantry, bulk food storage, and tips for storing food.

Organizing a prepared pantry everyday and bulk pantry storage
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We are very blessed with a large walk-in pantry at our current house. At our previous homes, we didn’t have this, so our pantry storage looked a little differently than it does now. When we didn’t have a pantry, we just used our regular kitchen cabinets and then stored a lot more extra supplies and food storage on shelves in the basement. So don’t worry if you don’t have a big pantry in your kitchen. You can find a way to make this work in any size home!

How do you organize an everyday working pantry?

Our everyday working pantry in our kitchen is where we keep the things we reach for on a regular basis. I keep baking supplies like flours, oats, nuts, seeds, etc. in our kitchen pantry. We also keep any cereals, snacks, dried fruits, etc. that we eat regularly. Our pantry is big enough that we also keep all of our essential oils, herbs, tinctures, vitamins and supplements, and medical supplies in there.

I buy many of our foods and supplies in bulk (partly for the price, but also because I have five kids, and I prefer not to go to the store often), so I store many of our bulk goods in five gallon buckets. If I buy a 25lb bag of flour, I might keep a smaller amount of it in a jar or other container and then keep the rest of the bag in a five gallon bucket in the basement. This helps to keep the pantry a little less cluttered but also makes it easier to access the food.

If I have multiples of a product (pasta, canned goods, ziploc bags, trash bags, cereal, seasonings, etc.), I keep them on shelves in the basement. This helps me to keep organized and know what I have available in our house and what I need to buy next time I shop.

I keep most of our home canned goods in our basement food storage, because it stays cooler and darker. And the jars are much less likely to get knocked off a shelf accidentally by a kid. ;)

How do you store your food for your everyday working pantry?

I try to keep most of the food in my everyday working pantry in jars or containers, to keep it fresh and also to keep out bugs. We have had issues with pantry moths, and if you’ve ever dealt with them… they are brutal! So keeping foods air tight is really important for us. I prefer to use glass, but let’s be honest… it can be more expensive to buy and with kids, it isn’t always the best choice.

Some of the storage options I use:

  • gallon jars – a more expensive option, but they certainly look really nice in the pantry! They also are very good at keeping bugs out and keeping foods fresh for a long time.
  • mason jars — thrift stores are great spots to find these (I look for jars that are in good condition and don’t have a strong smell inside; if the jars have rubber seals, I check that they are in good shape) — I re-use lids from my home canned goods and use them on my dehydrated foods and dry goods.
  • one gallon ice cream buckets – great option for foods kids need to access, like oats or homemade granola, or even storage of homemade trail mix or large bags of pancake mix, nuts, chia seeds, etc. They stack really well and the lid seals well enough to keep out bugs and moisture.
  • plastic bins with snap lids – these are great for storing pre-packaged snacks like granola bars, beef sticks, trail mix packets, etc.
  • re-use plastic or glass containers from other foods — I save tubs from collagen, popcorn kernels, gallon jugs from olive oil, etc. to re-use to store other food items. I find that these do a much better job of keeping out bugs than the original packaging, and they are much easier to store on my shelves.

How do you store bulk food items?

It’s incredibly important to store your bulk foods well, so that they stay dry, free from pests, and last as long as possible. You will want to store your bulk food items in a cool, dry, dark location — light, heat, and humidity can shorten the life span of your food, invite mold, and otherwise ruin your food. A dry area of a basement is usually a great space for this, or a closet that isn’t well-insulated (unless you live in a hot climate – then an uninsulated closet would be terrible idea!). Garages and attics are usually not a good place for food storage, unless they are temperature controlled.

You will also want to plan to rotate through your bulk food storage. Unless you are storing with the intent to keep it for the next several years (and storing it appropriately), be sure you are buying things your family will eat. There is no point in buying foods your family doesn’t like and you can’t rotate through on a regular basis.

Containers for bulk food storage:

  • Vittles Vault containers — these are my favorite containers for bulk food storage. They’re marketed as pet food containers, but they are BPA free and food grade plastic. They stack, the gamma seal lids are built-in, and they come in multiple sizes. They are very affordable too. I highly recommend these!
  • Five gallon buckets with Gamma seal lids — I find these buckets for the best price at Tractor Supply and Gamma seal lids from Azure Standard or Amazon.
  • Plastic totes — if your food items are purchased in well-sealed packages, you could put them in a plastic tote. This works well for pasta and other boxed items as well. As long as you are not planning to keep these items for a very long time, they should store well in a tightly sealed tote. Just check them often for signs of pest, rodent, or water damage.
  • Shelving units — it’s a good idea to keep your food storage up off the floor as much as possible. As long as you have a strong/stable shelving unit, the type of shelf doesn’t really matter much. You can keep store-bought canned goods stacked on shelves, but it’s not recommended to stack home canned goods.

If you are planning to store your foods for long-term (over a year), you will want to look into things like mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. I have these items, don’t typically use them, because we rotate through our food storage often enough, that it isn’t necessary. However, if you are keeping items as a true emergency storage, and keep them long term, you will want to seal them up very well with these tools.

Go to my Amazon storefront to see all my favorite food storage containers

Where do you buy bulk foods?


When I can, I buy our food in bulk. This makes sense for our family size, but it is often more cost effective. If you bake a lot, it isn’t efficient to buy 5lb bags of flour and go to the store every week.

My favorite places to buy bulk foods:

  • Azure Standard — this is a buying co-op that delivers once a month to drop sites throughout the U.S. You can check to see if there is a drop site near you. They have a wide selection of organic and gluten free foods, which is important to us. This is where I buy the majority of my grains and flours. There is a shipping charge that is a percentage of your total. (If you use my referral link or enter code JessicaCollier1 I receive a small referral thank you from Azure)
  • Costco — I shop locally or online. Did you know you can buy most of their non-perishable goods online? You can even buy some dairy or freezer items.
  • Boxed — I use the app Boxed to buy some bulk goods – you don’t need a membership. They have a fair amount of organic goods. I always price check this site, though, because often items can be found cheaper at Costco or at Azure. But the shipping is very fast and has a low threshold to meet the free shipping mark.
  • Amazon — you can find some bulk goods on Amazon, and often putting them on Subscribe & Save can make them less expensive.

While I occasionally buy from other places, these are the main sources of our bulk goods. I shop Azure once a month and alternate from other sites when I need to.

With five kids, my pantry needs to be reorganized and cleaned fairly often (read: all the time ;), but it helps to have things in containers or jars. You can get fancy with labels, but I tend to just use painters or duct tape!

You don’t have to be a prepper to have a good food storage. Not everyone is hoarding or stocking up for the zombie apocalypse. ;) You never know when someone in your family will get sick and you’re unable to get to the store, bad weather keeps you home, or a sudden job loss leaves you on a very tight budget. Having a well-stocked pantry is also incredibly important in our current economic season – with supply chain issues, rising food costs, and the uncertainty that comes with all of that.

But regardless of the current times, a well-stocked pantry is so helpful to our everyday life and our from-scratch cooking goals. I’m able to shop my own pantry, rather than having to go to the store often. We save money by buying in bulk and preserving local and homegrown foods. And we are prepared in case of any natural disaster or life emergency that may come along.

Do you keep a well-stocked pantry? Feel free to leave any of your own tips in the comments!

Looking to start a Prepared Pantry? Download this FREE Guide to a Prepared Pantry.

This printable pack includes:

  • a full page list of foods, broken up by category, to begin building your prepared pantry
  • four inventory pages for everyday pantry, bulk food storage, fridge, and freezer
  • links to additional resources

Looking for more posts related to preparedness? Find them HERE.

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